House committee cuts funding for barrier at Coon Rapids Damby Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The state House Ways and Means committee has cut $16 million in funding for construction of a barrier at the Coon Rapids Dam.
The money would have renovated the dam and expand it so it could also serve as a barrier against invasive species like Asian carp. The state Department of Natural Resources said Coon Rapids is the best location for such a barrier.
House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Chair Denny McNamara (R-Hastings) said the barrier doesn't have to be funded this year.
"If we get the pre-design and design done this year and then fund the construction next year, we're right on track to build that really as soon as practical. you could easily say that would make more sense to fund it right now, but our plan I do not believe slows it down," McNamara said.
DNR deputy commissioner Dave Schad disagreed. He said the project should move forward sooner to make sure it's in place before Asian carp move into that part of the Mississippi River.
"It's going to result in a delay in the project and there's no assurance that this'll be any part of any kind of package this year. We'd like to get the money in hand, get the materials ordered, and have some confidence that we've got the funding we need for this barrier," Schad said.
DNR officials said the need for a barrier is growing; a bighead carp was found recently in the St. Croix River.